Mockingjay Part 1 - Teaser PosterWhen I read the Hunger Games trilogy two years ago, I remember being disappointed with the last book. So I was not surprised that I found the third movie installment lacking.

Part of it is the nature of the plot line. Since they split the final book into two movies, we’ve only got half a story to watch. District 13 spends the entire movie preparing for battle, which means there isn’t the action that there is in the first two films.

If you haven’t read the books, Mockingjay picks up after Katniss was removed from the Quarter Quell after destroying the arena. District 12 has been demolished and she’s been taken to District 13 where an army is forming to eliminate President Snow. Katniss has been asked to be the face of the rebellion and in return, she demands Peeta’s rescue.

We see more of Katniss’s emotions in Mockingjay. In fact, much of the movie focuses on her face, showcasing tears and utter dismay at the her current situation. We see more of Gale and less of Peeta, as he’s being held captive in the Capital. We’re introduced to President Coin, head of District 13 (played quite well by Julianne Moore, who I feel has been missing from the silver screen as of late). We get little glimpses into Prim, Katniss’s sister, in moments that I wished were longer.

The film itself is a bit slow, but not painfully so. There are several scenes that remind us why we love Katniss so much. Her spirit shines through as Coin and Plutarch (the very missed Philip Seymour Hoffman) request her assistance in filming propaganda videos and we remember the girl from the first film who won’t be told what to do.


What I did love was the soundtrack. It was wonderful to hear Jennifer Lawrence sing “Hanging Tree” (an original score by Suzanne Collins redone by The Lumineers) It was one of my favorite scenes in the movie and I will be downloading it for sure.

Should you see it? Absolutely.

Should you expect a lot? No.

Part 1 is setting the stage for the final battle. It is my hope that Part 2 (set for next November) puts it all out there and lets the series go out with a bang. My fingers are crossed.

Mockingjay is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 123 minutes.


Holiday Gift Ideas For the Whole Family

by Erin L. on November 20, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s the middle of November (shhh, I know it’s closer to the end. Ears covered – LA LA LA!) and I’ve purchased one present and one stocking stuffer. I’m starting to get a little anxious as I usually am much more organized around this time of year. My holiday cards aren’t even ordered  yet, which says a lot.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have ideas. So instead of doing a little online shopping today, I’m going to share with you my thoughts on a few gifts for your whole family.

For the baby:

Baby Gift Ideas

Little O plush toy – I am in love with the stuffed animals from Little Giraffe. The new owl is just adorable. They also sell amazing blankets, even in adult size.

Zoochini Hooded Bath Towels – How adorable are these towels from this awesome “new to me” company, Zoochini? They also make toddler towels and organic underwear that look fantastic.

Lulujo Blanket – This cool blanket is three layers and large enough to last well into childhood. It features two layers of breathable muslin and one layer of soft jersey cotton.

For the toddler/preschooler:

Gifts for Toddlers and preschoolers

Learn to Print Magnetic Board  – Awesome for kiddos learning to write

Real Working Cash Register – We love imaginary play in our house and I know this is going to be a HUGE hit with Miss E. (PS. it’s on sale right now!)

EZPZ Less Mess Mat – Honestly these self-sealing silicone mats could easily be for baby OR Mom as the age range for usage is a big one. They are BRILLIANT. I met them at ABC this year and it’s a game changer. They are currently taking pre-orders and hope to ship by Christmas.

Oopsy Daisy Night Light – – I am in love with this gorgeous night light. It gives off just enough light that my daughter no longer cries out when she wakes up at 3 a.m and it fits in perfect with her room decor. Be sure and check out what else this brand has to offer – adorable wall art, placemats and growth charts too!

For the young elementary:

Gifts for early elementary


Amazing Zhus – These amazing motorized pets are sure to amaze your little one. They perform magic trick and stunts and are available exclusively at Walmart.

Brick Loot – This is a new box subscription company geared towards brick and Lego fans. This fun box that can be delivered monthly to customers of all ages is filled to the brim with the latest and greatest brick compatible products. Each month, the contents of the box are a total surprise to subscribers. The contents will include unique items that cannot be purchased at your average toy store around the corner. BrickLoot‘s partners are among some of the biggest names in the toy industry such as: OYO sports, Nano Blocks and Brick Forge. The box subscription starts as low as $23.00 a month and varies depending on your subscription selection

Steven Spangler’s Instant Snow Powder – How can you go wrong with this science experiment that makes “real” snow?

For Tweens

Minecraft Construction for Dummies – We just bought Minecraft and I find it REALLY confusing. But I think as Mr A gets older, he’ll be able to get the hang of it. This book could help!

 For the Woman of the House:

For the Lady of the House - Gift Guide

This list could be REALLY, REALLY long as there are many, many things that I would like to have. Plus, I’m pretty easy to please.

1. Erin Condren Life Planner - This is my present to myself this year. I had one two years ago and it’s honestly the most awesome planner ever. So if your mom is a busy lady, this will help keep track of the insanity.

2. Sephora Gift Card – You just really can’t go wrong with this. All women can use something from here – make-up, skin care, nail polish, perfume.

3. HOBO Vintage Gardner Shoulder Handbag – Because all ladies love a good bag and HOBO is on it! This bag has lots of space and fits comfortably over your shoulder.

4. Mother Nestling Bird Necklace from Uncommon Goods – This necklace just speaks to me. I just love it and think most moms will too!

For the Man of the House:

Let’s face it. Shopping for Dad can be hard AND expensive.  If they have a “thing” it’s way easier – maybe it’s a band or music in general, maybe it’s a sports team. But without that “thing” it can be virtually impossible. That’s my husband. Impossible!

Here are my haphazard attempts at gifts for Dad.

An experience – sky diving gift card, tickets to his favorite comedian – I say Go BIG or go home.

A GoPro, so they can record all of life’s exciting moments

A gift certificate to tour a local brewery (I’m looking at the Beltline Brew Tour, Triangle residents!)

Sol Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones – These just look cool! 15 hours of battery life. Your partner would be set.

Stocking Stuffers:

Broccoli Bites Little Toader Teething Toy – These teethers are AWESOME. They also have chicken wings and baby back ribs. Hilarious!

Babiator Sunglasses – Even little people need to protect their eyes from the sun. These glasses are fantastic!

Charles Viancin Winterberry Lids – These lids are totally rad. The collection includes five different sizes of the Charles Viancin reusable silicone lids, drink covers and bottle stoppers. The lids are microwave, oven, dishwasher and refrigerator safe.  Super easy to use. No more need for plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  The collection ranges from $1.99-$18.99.

Petunia Picklebottom Tablet Case – Mom or Grandma will love toting around her iPad or Kindle in this beauty!

Wall Mount Bottle Opener – Beer lovers will thank you for this awesome gift!

Evelyn Hair Ties - Any lady on your list will love these cute hair ties. They come in a variety of solids and prints.


I hope I helped a little, although most of you are probably much further along than I am in your shopping. Enjoy your gift giving!


This gift guide is a mix of product samples, affiliate links and items I love and have purchased. No compensation was received.


Our Netflix Family Favorites

November 17, 2014
Our Netflix Family Favorites

We have been Netflix subscribers for almost a year and a half. It’s been awesome. Everyone in the family has something to watch. On Saturday mornings, my almost six year old is always the first one up. He’s allowed to go watch TV (any approved show he wants) until his three year old sister wakes up. Then he has to switch to a show that’s appropriate for both of them. His favorites (which admittedly make me want to cringe just a little) are: Pokemon Power Rangers  The Ultimate Spiderman My […]

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Reality bites and other words of wisdom

November 12, 2014
THIS...this is way better than dealing with feline medical issues.

Dudes. Seriously? I just got back from an AH-mazing weekend. We’re talking wine, good food, coffee, cuddlling, cold weather and a little adventure. It was BEYOND needed. We got home late Sunday afternoon. The kiddos rushed into our arms and we had a big ol’ family snuggle fest. Again, totally amazing. Then Monday happened. What the deuce? It’s like reality decided to bitch slap me, point and laugh. I spent most of the morning doing the normal catch-up from being out of work. Then I had the brilliant idea to update […]

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Zulily Top Toys for the Holidays

November 11, 2014
zulily top 10 toys - holiday guide

I love some zulily. For holiday shopping, you really can’t go wrong with giving the site a quick perusal each day to see what’s on sale. Whether you need a sassy holiday outfit or a toy from the Christmas list, zulily is a great site. zulily’s top 10 holiday toy picks, and other similar brands and toys, are available at up to 50 percent off retail. Some of the sale dates are as follows: NOW!: Train Set Nov. 16: Magfomers Nov. 23: EZ-forts Nov. 23: My Very Own Doll Nursery […]

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Go BOLD and be okay with discomfort {checking off a life list item}

November 10, 2014
Go Bold #CamryBold

I’m not much of a risk taker. I don’t particularly like not being in control. But a lot of life requires risk and stepping out of your comfort zone. I know this and have spent a good chunk of time learning to embrace the fear and jump anyway. So when Southeast Toyota asked to check something BOLD off my life list to help introduce the BOLD new 2015 Toyota Camry, I immediately said yes with no hesitation. Jason and I were headed to the mountains anyway to celebrate our ten […]

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